Thursday, May 31, 2012

Now Playing: The Songbird of the West 
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Episode Eleven of The Songbird of the West

Episode Ten concluded with:

Thank you, Glenn,” the mayor addressed the man who had just taken the picture. Glenn Wilson was the photographer, reporter and editor of the local paper. “Glenn tells me that the picture he just took and the story of what happened to Miss Whiting yesterday will go all over the country and really put our town on the map!”
There was another round of loud cheering. Felix used the moment to whisper instructions to Carrie’s three rescuers. “You gents can vamoose off the stage now.”

Episode Eleven

The three men hurried back to the front row, where they had seats of honor sitting with Bruce Patten, the owner of the Silver Crown and several other saloons. Patten was a tall, dark haired man in his mid-thirties. Dehner had known him for less than a day, but he had noticed that during all the congratulations to the lawmen and gestures of concern for Carrie, Patten’s eyes had remained cold and serious. As a result, when Patten’s mouth formed a smile it appeared to be an artificial gesture.
After they sat down, Tal Streeter whispered to Dehner. “Sorry about yesterday. I know things didn’t go the way you hoped. I shouldn’t have fired on that outlaw you had already wounded.”
“Should’a knowed better. Bein’ trigger happy has already gotten me in trouble with Wells Fargo. I killed two outlaws that robbed one of their stagecoaches.”
“Why would that make Wells Fargo mad?”
“The robbers had already hid the loot. Over four thousand dollars. Now, nobody knows where it is.”
Rance cringed. He could understand why Wells Fargo was not happy with the sheriff. The detective turned his attention to the stage where Felix Murphy was beginning to speak.
 “Folks, as your mayor, it has been--”
“Felix, just one thing!” The voice came from a gray haired, ruddy faced man in the second row. He was obviously influential enough in the town to speak up at such a major event.
“Yes, Wilbur?” Felix couldn’t quite keep the irritation from his voice.
“What’s the story on that skunk who lived?”
Mayor Murphy noticed that others in the audience were interested in the question. The irritation vanished from his voice and was replaced by an officious tone.
“After rescuing Miss Whiting last night, the three lawmen brought the wounded man back to town. He had nothing on him. Nobody in Dry River knows who he is. Right now, he is at Doc Erickson’s house. Doc thinks he’s gonna live, though it ain’t certain.”
Wilbur nodded his head as he spoke again. “I’ve been thinkin’ maybe Glenn should take another picture when we hang the no good. That would get us more publicity in the big newspapers.”
A murmur of agreement spread through the Silver Crown. “Excellent idea, Wilber!” His Honor proclaimed. “We’ll make sure Glenn is there to take a picture when we hang the kidnapper,--or what is left of him.”
That joke received enough laughter to give Felix Murphy a chance to change course. “As all of you know, Miss Carrie Whiting will be giving a performance here at the Silver Crown tomorrow night and liquor will be served. Today, she is giving a matinee for all the families of Dry River.” He turned to face Carrie who was standing beside him. “Miss Whiting, speaking on behalf--”
A shout came from the crowd. “Enough, Felix! Nobody came here to listen to you!”
“Ah, yes.” The mayor hastily pulled a card from his side pocket and began to read from it. “Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, Mr. Bruce Patten is pleased to bring to our fine town, the musical artistry of Miss Carrie Whiting!” 
Loud applause and several whistles came from the audience. Carrie bowed gracefully, nodded at the pianist positioned at the side of the stage and began to sing.
Dehner was totally captivated by Carrie’s performance. This was a much different Carrie Whiting that he was seeing. The previous day, Carrie had been relieved and very grateful when rescued from the kidnappers. But she had also been withdrawn and quiet. During the picture taking, Carrie had been poised and gracious but still distant. Now, she seemed totally alive, connecting with her audience and reveling in the moment.
Rance wondered if this wasn’t an unusual performance for the Songbird of the West. He knew little of her career, but was aware that she had begun singing in saloons at a very early age,--around thirteen. The detective reckoned Miss Whiting had sung in some pretty grungy establishments. Now, for the most part, she was singing in fine theaters before well dressed audiences.
But this day at the Silver Crown found her performing for families. The singer seemed to be sending out her magnificent smiles to the children in the audience. Carrie seemed especially joyful, at the end of the concert when she led the audience in a rousing sing along of Oh! Susanna.
As the singer took her bows, Dehner began to chuckle at his own pretentions. Why fool himself with pompous thoughts? He was as dazzled by Carrie Whiting as everyone else,--especially the males in the audience.
Felix Murphy rushed back onto the stage. “Before we finish, folks, there is a special favor that Miss Whiting has agreed to do for our town.”
A quizzical look suddenly came across the singer’s face. She was not prepared for what was going to happen next.

Tomorrow: Episode Twelve of The Songbird of the West